Are the Japanese software giants calling all the wrong shots and cannibalising their own sales?
The announcement of many Nintendo releases in the last year has revealed that a game will be sold on both the Wii U and the 3DS. This is true of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, Resident Evil Revelations, and Sonic Lost World, but the question is, are Nintendo shooting themselves in the feet by releasing these games on both consoles?
It’s not the first time that Nintendo have employed such a tactic; they released The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on both the GameCube and the Wii and the result was a whopping 6.8 million sales for the Wii version, next to just over 1.5 million for the dying GameCube. Being a Zelda junkie, I bought both versions, and apart from the difference in operating the controls, and the annoying fact that the entire map and actions were flipped to cater to the right handed population, they were practically identical. So if there’s no difference between games other than the console they’re sold on, is it really worth the money they spend on developing both versions? Well the fact is, it was one of the largest selling Zelda games next to Ocarina of Time, and that really is saying something. Nintendo obviously know better than to rely on the fact that their fanbase can be a slightly obsessive bunch, especially when times are hard. Or do they?
Judging solely on the Twilight Princess trend, there is definitely a benefit to Nintendo covering both of their bases; if you don’t have a Wii U you might have a 3DS and vice versa. So really they’re just trying to guarantee that people will buy the game on at least one platform. But the Wii U is a different beast to the Wii altogether, so is this old tactic working a second time around? Well, me just saying “yes” or “no” probably won’t convince you, so (and I never thought you’d hear me say this) let’s do some maths.
It clearly makes sense to produce non Nintendo-exclusive games on both consoles. With games such as Resident Evil Revelations, releasing it on both platforms will increase the chances of one of their versions being bought over, say, the 360 version. But for a Nintendo only game such as Monster Hunter, where’s the money? This particular game has sold nearly two and a quarter million on the 3DS, and not even half a million on the Wii U. For a flagging console, perhaps Nintendo should have considered making one of their must-have games a Wii U exclusive to push fans into a console purchase. Especially when a common complaint with the Wii U is the lack of games.
Despite suffering from lower sales than the 3DS, the sales of the Wii U were boosted after the release of Monster Hunter, suggesting that had they released it solely on the Wii U, they could have made a mint. The 3DS is already an established console, and Nintendo definitely have the upper hand in the hand-held market. The success of games such as Animal Crossing: New Leaf shows that the 3DS doesn’t need the Wii U’s piggy-backed titles. So really, Nintendo have missed out on the perfect opportunity to push Wii U sales up, and it looks like the same might happen with the impending release of Sonic Lost World in October.
Who knows? Perhaps these decisions were made in a moment of panic. Things haven’t been looking too peachy for Nintendo of late, and everyone makes mistakes. But after this extensive analysis (or rather amateur fondlings of complex subjects) it seems clear that Nintendo need to focus on making the Wii U come into its own, or else their performance may never again see an upward curve. All we can do now is hope that’s all part of Nintendo’s amazing secret plan.
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